Goodell is to meet with the four players. Vilma, suspended for the entire season, requested a separate meeting. New Orleans defensive end Will Smith (four games), Browns linebacker Scott Fujita (three) and free agent defensive end Anthony Hargrove (eight) are expected to have their meeting Tuesday.
Goodell must show that the basis for the discipline was inappropriate conduct - such as intent to injure - rather than any secret monetary compensation. In that case, he has full authority to impose the suspensions.
Players and coaches implicated in the bounty pool have testified under oath in a related federal court case they never intended to injure opposing players.
Refs taking the heat
One official was pulled from duty because he's a fan. Another negated a touchdown without ever throwing a penalty flag. Several others had difficulty with basic rules.
Upon further review, Week 2 was a poor one for the NFL's replacement officials.
Coaches and players around the league are losing patience and speaking out against the fill-in officials following a slew of questionable calls in Sunday's games.
Some players are even joking about dipping into their own pockets to settle the contract dispute and get the regular officials back on the field immediately.
"I don't know what they're arguing about, but I got a couple of [million] on it, so let's try to make it work," Washington defensive back DeAngelo Hall said, kiddingly, on Monday. "I'm sure the locker room could pot up some cash and try to help the cause out."
The NFL locked out the regular officials in June after their contract expired. Negotiations with the NFL Referees Association broke down several times during the summer, including just before the season, and the league is using replacements for the first time since 2001.
Seau to be honored
The board of directors at the San Diego Hall of Champions has decided to forego the normal voting process and induct Junior Seau into the Breitbard Hall of Fame on Feb. 25.
Candidates normally aren't eligible to be voted in until two years after their careers end or their deaths.
Seau, the hard-hitting, first-pumping leader of the Chargers for 13 of his 20 NFL seasons, committed suicide May 2. He grew up in suburban Oceanside and was a star at Southern California.
Denise Cooper, president of the Hall of Champions, says Seau "was pretty special and we wanted to do this immediately."
Down and out
The early glow from Robert Griffin III's fast start faded quickly for the Washington Redskins when defensive starters Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker were declared out for the season. Two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Orakpo tore the pectoral muscle near his left shoulder, and defensive end Carriker tore the quad tendon in his right knee in the first quarter of Sunday's 31-28 loss to the St. Louis Rams. . . . New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick says he doesn't know how long tight end Aaron Hernandez will be sidelined with a right ankle injury. ESPN.com reported that Hernandez would not play Sunday night at Baltimore and that, while there is no exact timetable, he likely will not return until October at the earliest.
Alex Smith had rallied his team for a late victory against the Lions last fall at Ford Field, and had no intention of cutting it close this time on his home turf.
Eleven months later Smith and his Niners were dominant with the football world watching. Smith threw touchdown passes of 21 and 23 yards to tight end Vernon Davis, the defense shut down a prolific passer for the second time in as many weeks, and the San Francisco 49ers beat Detroit, 27-19, Sunday night in a September showdown of NFC powers that hardly lived up to its hype.
This article contains information from the Associated Press.